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Chestermere residents angry over canal ice rinks being declared off-limits

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Some Chestermere residents are disappointed that they are no longer allowed to skate on a local canal for safety reasons. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Jan 16, 2021

Some Chestermere residents who live along a canal in the south end of the city are disappointed that they are no longer allowed to skate on the canal.

On Friday, city staff applied sand to ice on storm ponds and ice surfaces on the canal to discourage skating.

Read more: Storm pond rinks in Chestermere covered with sand by city officials citing safety

“I was not happy. It’s just cruel. The kids need somewhere to go and do outdoor things,” said Christine Hartos, who lives in the neighbourhood of Rainbow Falls.

There are several rinks on the canal that runs through Rainbow Falls that are cleared by residents. Kevin Deutsch maintains one of them. He said he regularly tests the thickness of the ice.

“I’ve gone down approximately 12 inches and I’m not through. I take those measurements every few days to ensure safety. That’s of utmost importance,” said Deutsch on Saturday.

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Deutsch said he doesn’t have a problem with the city prohibiting activities on storm ponds.

The City of Chestermere is reminding residents that storm ponds are dangerous because of fluctuations in ice quality.

Read more: Father and son rescue woman after falling through Calgary lake ice

But Deutsch said there’s been no indication of any water flowing into the canal that would create safety concerns and wonders why the city allows skating on Chestermere Lake.

“I think we are kind of speaking out of both sides of our mouth. If this can’t be made safe but that [ice on Chestermere Lake] can, it doesn’t make sense,” Deutsch said.

Community members who have been using canal rinks for years are frustrated with the city’s action.

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“Everyone is helping to support Kevin,” said Emily Hellyer, who lives along the canal.

“They all shovel and they all take turns. They take care of each other’s children and it’s really like one lovely community. It’s one of the reasons we moved here. It’s devastating to see them take this away.”

On Friday afternoon, the City of Chestermere said witnesses reported that a child had fallen through the ice at the Kinniburgh Storm Pond in the south end of the city.

On Saturday, Chestermere peace officers confirmed that they were able to get in touch with the family and confirmed the child got out safely.

Read more: Alberta’s first fully accessible outdoor rink will soon be open in Calgary

Deutsch said his family won’t be using the canal rink for now, but he will be attending Tuesday’s council meeting to address the issue.

The city is presently using education through social media, signage and on-site verbal warnings to discourage the use of the storm ponds.

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